Lessons in Green Building from Afghanistan
While most of the United States’ focus on Afghanistan has been on the ongoing war, other lessons from this land have come to North America in the form of green building techniques. As it turns out, efficiency, affordability, or mobility are often good catalysts to try something new. From sturdy local building materials like adobe bricks to advanced structural insulated panels informed by traditional designs, read on for several great examples.
Adobe Brick Buildings
Our first story is of an engineer who spent time in this ancient land developing water projects. He was so enthralled with the adobe brick buildings in which he stayed that when he decided to build his dream home back in the US he used bricks he made on-site. He did cheat a bit and bought and rebuilt a compressed adobe block machine (a year’s quest) rather than packing forms of mud to lie in the sun. A few years on and 12,000 bricks later, his home is an authentic blend of the old and new. To keep it temperate he built a double brick wall system with spray foam between. His advice from the adventure? “1. Keep it simple. 2. Keep it real simple.”
Structural Insulated Panels Update the Traditional Yurt
From a completely different experience, a structural insulated panel or SIP company was sparked from an Afghan building research project. This story’s protagonist first intended to install SIP structures there after researching 40 different building systems for the State Department. The war kept that project from moving forward, but later that project moved to Sudan. SIPs were the perfect fit because of their portability and simplicity. With such proof of the viability of SIPs he set out to start a company in Northern Colorado. ICS Rocky Mountain now makes a wall system with an initial R value of 42, and is also selling SIP yurts for the energy efficient nomad. These long paths to a green building system were born from real world experience.
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